The demise and revival of the Kodansha Kanji Learner's Course

The Kodansha Kanji Learner’s Course, which originally came out in Dec 2013, went out of print a couple of years ago. It seems the reason was a dispute between the author, Andrew Scott Conning Ed.D., and Jack Halpern, the owner of the CJK Dictionary Institute. This dispute went through arbitration in Japan and was decided in Conning’s favor—but Halpern didn’t pay.

The CJK Dictionary Institute is a company in Japan that develops lexical databases for Japanese and other languages, and publishes dictionaries and software derived from those databases. It also created the content for the iKnow! Japanese Core 6000 collection, which is perhaps better known as the Core 6k Anki deck. The company has received very substantial public assistance (government grants) to collect data for their proprietary databases, but seems to have shared none of its data back with the public, except by releasing paid products. I don’t know the full story about the Conning–Halpern dispute, but it sure looks like Conning got cheated. I’ve bought products from the CJK Dictionary Institute before, but I won’t do so again!

Anyhow, printed copies of the Kanji Learner’s Course were hard to come by for a while, but there are currently a small number of “new” copies for sale from third-party sellers on Amazon US, so you can order one now if you want one.

Your link to a court decision is only a denial of an initial ‘motion to dismiss’. I think that it’s thus likely that this dispute between the author and the CJKI is still working its way through the courts. I would be very wary of claiming anybody to be ‘corrupt’ at this point, especially since you only have effectively one side of the story.

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True, but I think it’s highly relevant that JCAA ruled against CJKI, and CJKI paid less than 40% of the awarded amount. I doubt the US-MA lawsuit would have been filed if CJKI had paid as required.

I have some additional background from my personal experience: I saw Kodansha USA at an event after they published Kodansha Kanji Synonyms Guide (by Halpern and CJKI) in 2018. The representative was surprised that I had a mobile app which contained the exact same material as the book, as they had one-year exclusive rights for the material.

I don’t have any relationship to either side, apart from buying their products.

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I’m not sure what happened with the lawsuit, but the KKLC is back in print, and the associated series of Graded Reader Sets is also progressing again, with two new volumes released recently. The remaining two volumes are scheduled for April and May 2020.

EDIT: Changed thread title to reflect the current situation, and to remove the jab at CJKI.

Hello, Andrew Conning here (author of the KLC). I found this page when googling for discussions of my book’s unfortunate suspension.

Thanks so very much for sharing that the book is back on sale. I am happy to share that the KLC Graded Reading Sets series is also complete.

I am writing because it would help me very much, in my ongoing efforts to defend my rights, to know more about the government grants that you referred to in your post. I would be very grateful indeed if you could connect with me at andrewscottconning [at] gmail so that I could ask you where I could obtain more information about these grants.

I believe that sharing the full truth about these matters with the court will help ensure that justice be obtained in my case, and that the rights of others in similar situations will thereby be protected.

Thank you very much for your kind support.


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To clarify, grants to the CJK Dictionary Institute and related parties were all from sources in Japan, as far as I’m aware. See this page, under the section heading History of Project.

Thank you very much for your kind help.

Good luck with your studies.


(post withdrawn by author, will be automatically deleted in 24 hours unless flagged)

So was that really Andrew Scott Conning? Very strange behaviour to appear and then delete his two posts so quickly. I’m distinctly unimpressed by his behaviour, whoever it was who did this.

Will the real Andrew Scott Conning stand up?

Hello kumajochu,

This is Andrew Conning (the real one!). Thank you for tagging me so I could see your comment.

In my first comment I thanked OP for sharing that the book was back on sale, and asking if he or she could contact me so I could learn where I could get information about the government grants he or she referred to. I said that having this information could potentially help me defend my rights and the rights of others in similar situations. I posted my personal email address so that he or she would have the opportunity to respond privately.

OP kindly responded with the comment above linking to information about the government grants. I then added a comment thanking OP for their kind help, and wishing them luck with their studies.

It is not my intention to draw extra attention to this thread, even if it shares information that I find deeply vindicating after everything that my family and I have suffered over the past several years. I did feel it was important to learn about the government grants OP mentioned, but did not intend to drag OP into further public discussion of events that are potentially embarrassing to a third party.

If UJ or anyone has the original text of the comments, I would be grateful if they could re-post them so as to clarify the record. If there is a way for me to un-delete my original comments, please let me know. (OP, if you have the text of the comments in your email somewhere, please feel free to post them–and sorry for dragging you into all this).

There was certainly nothing in these comments that was untruthful or disparaging. My intention in deleting them was to avoid drawing further attention to a regrettable dispute, no matter how vindicating the thread is for me personally. I see now that deleting them may have had the opposite effect.

I would like to take this opportunity to say that, in spite of everything that I have been through, which is now a matter of public record in federal court, I still wholeheartedly recommend the products made by Jack Halpern and CJKI. I still keep my copy of his Kanji Learner’s Dictionary close at hand, and consult it from time to time when reading Japanese. I will always be grateful to Mr. Halpern for his efforts in bringing out this dictionary, and especially for his many labor-of-love projects like Japanese dictionaries for underserved language communities (even Esperanto!). I hope Mr. Halpern will always be known and remembered for his extraordinary contributions to language learning and lexicography, and for his dedication to many worthwhile projects that promised him little in the way of financial reward.

Andrew Conning

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Many thanks for coming back Andrew and for your detailed reply. I appreciate it.

You’re welcome. Thanks for reading my long comment.

I have used my moderator powers to revert the comments to their original text and undelete them. (I suspect that it would have been possible for you to do so yourself, but the Discourse UI is not entirely intuitive and it also doesn’t make clear to moderators which actions are available because they are mods and which are available to all users.)

Thank you very much.